Hear me roar!

Just in: I Am Superman!

So easy a writer can do it!

In my mind, this project was going to be a true test of character. There’d be copious amounts of blood, sweat, and tears alongside broken boards and lacerated ankles. The path would be difficult, but victory so, so sweet.

I wish I could say this without sounding like a total douche, but I landed a superman on my second try. I know I said they were easy, but I honestly didn’t expect this result. Let me explain how it happened.

I paddled out to my local reef around eight AM. Due to a blustery south wind, which is considered “devil wind” by Morgan Dunn and Inertia co. but “air wind” to the rest of us, the lineup was empty. A mid-period northwest had graced our shores overnight resulting in wedgy right-handers that sprinted into the oncoming gales. In other words, a perfect aerial storm.

My first attempt was on a smaller wave. I got the pop, grab, and a little bit of extension, but by the time I tried to throw it back under me I had already descended past the point of possibility. I landed butt-first on my board and bounced around in the whitewash for a few seconds.

A failure, yes, but I did note how simple it had been to extract and replace the board underneath me. The wind helped tremendously as it kept the board close without much effort on my end. I figured if I could just get a little higher, there was a decent chance I’d be able to pull it off.

A few waves later I locked into a chunky double-up. It had that second-wave-of-the-set texture and girth, with a big side-wedge forming down the line. I’d estimate about head-high on takeoff.

It took only two pumps before I reached the ramp and was soaring (no more than two feet but certainly no less than one) above the lip with feet (slightly) disconnected from my board. I don’t have any photographic evidence, but for a realistic depiction, imagine a man using a grab bar to support himself whilst hovering over a toilet.

At that point I started my descent and threw the board haphazardly beneath my feet. Just before impact I released the grab and landed squarely atop the lip. Out of fear I leaned back slightly, but the explosion pushed me back over my board and within two seconds I had ridden past the whitewater.

This superman was more of a Clark Kent but dammit it was a make, even by WSL standards.

After landing I went straight for a few seconds, scouting my surroundings for any witnesses, but the old lady on the stairs looked entirely disinterested. I laughed to myself and paddled back out.

Believe me, I feel like the biggest piece of shit for even telling this story, but what am I gonna do, pretend it didn’t happen? On the bright side, this event has inspired me to try other new shit, because why not!

I think I’ll go for a Passion Pop next and then maybe cocaine. Will anyone here ‘fess up to the merits of prostate stimulation? I’m open to anything!

SUP: The worst ever surf derivative?

If I had to either SUP or not surf again I would not surf again.

The first time I ever saw a stand-up paddleboard was on the North Shore of Hawaii back in the winter of 2006. I was staying in a home just down the road from Waimea and there was some wave far out the back. It looked maybe fun but also far. Next to the home was a monstrous looking flat boat, maybe fifteen feet and five inches thick, with full deck traction and only one paddle.

I asked the owner, “What sort of boat is this and why does it only have one paddle?”

He said, “It is not a boat it’s a surfboard. A stand-up paddleboard. You stand up and paddle.”

I asked if I could stand up and paddle to the wave breaking on a reef out the back and he said, “Sure.”

A few minutes later I was dragging one of the heaviest things I had ever lifted down to the beach. An hour after that, sweaty and sore (sorry for the “soar.” What a blunder!), I was standing up and paddling out to sea. It wasn’t so difficult, just slightly awkward and not very fun but I was committed and soon reached the wave. It was a hollow little thing breaking over very shallow reef. I paddled into position and took off. I kind of bottom turned, mowed down the line then got too high and dropped onto the rocks.


Worse, the thing was attached to my leg and weighed more than me so continued to drag me across the shoal. When I finally collected myself and took inventory I discovered bloody hip, top of foot and elbow plus a half broken fin on the vessel. It was at that moment that I understood the stand-up paddleboard to be the worst ever derivative of the surfboard and have glared at every one that passes me on either road or out at sea.

The SUP has been around now for a while and continues evolving. From SUP yoga to The Inertia to a SUP rowboat. It has finally found its other paddle.

But am I wrong? Do you think there is a worse derivation of surfing?

Maybe high performance longboarding?

Which is worse, the SUP or high performance longboarding?

Is #VanLife for you? A new lineup every day? Returning to a giant bed to de-salt with a lavish of tongues? | Photo: Jeff Minton/The New Yorker

#VanLife sexy in The New Yorker!

Who knew surfers doin' the #VanLife thing could be this elevating!

The resilience of America and its citizens never fails to elevate. Where else but, say, Bangladesh or Romania, can a man work fifty hours a week and not earn enough to provide a roof over the head of his family?

Hence America’s living-in-car culture.

Some of my best friends, gainfully employed, have taken, at various points, to habitat in their little Japanese saloons and hatches. If America has the highest rate of incarceration in the world it can also claim to have the highest rate of in-car-ceration.

Get it? Yeah.

Anyway, a spin-off of the Car Dream is #VanLife where surfers, mostly, deck out a Ford Sprinter or VW Vanagon and live the nomadic dream of moving from beach to beach. Each day a new lineup, a new scene, a new angle on the swell, the sun.

What thrills me, and I suppose I’m not alone, is surfing your ass off and then returning to what is, effectively, a giant bed and licking the salt off your lover’s thighs while you do a switcharoo and flop the old hoagie in her face. Oh, that might be life’s greatest pleasure.

In the April 24 issue of The New Yorker Rachel Monroe has a cut a piece out of the life-of-the-road dream. The story is called #VanLife, The Bohemian Media Movement. Like all stories in The New Yorker it is written in the most compelling and authoritative manner.

Let’s excerpt a little:

Emily King and Corey Smith had been dating for five months when they took a trip to Central America, in February, 2012. At a surf resort in Nicaragua, Smith helped a lanky American named Foster Huntington repair the dings in his board. When the waves were choppy, the three congregated in the resort’s hammock zone, where the Wi-Fi signal was strongest. One afternoon, Huntington listened to the couple have a small argument. Something about their fond irritation made him think that they’d be suited to spending long periods of time together in a confined space. “You guys would be great in a van,” he told them.

The year before, Huntington had given up his apartment in New York and his job as a designer at Ralph Lauren, and moved into a 1987 Volkswagen Syncro. He spent his days surfing, exploring, and taking pictures of his van parked in picturesque locations along the California coast. It was the early days of Instagram, and, over time, Huntington accumulated more than a million followers. He represented a new kind of social-media celebrity, someone famous not for starring in movies or recording hit songs but for documenting an enviable life. “My inspiration,” went a typical comment on one of his posts. “God I wish my life was that free and easy and amazing.” Huntington tagged his posts with phrases like #homeiswhereyouparkit and #livesimply, but the tag he used most often was #vanlife.

 King and Smith left Nicaragua for Costa Rica, but the idea of the van stuck with them. King, a telegenic former business student, had quit her job at a Sotheby’s branch when she realized that she was unhappy. Smith, a competitive mountain biker and the manager of a kayak store, had never had a traditional office job. They figured they could live cheaply in a van while placing what they loved—travelling, surfing, mountain biking—at the center of their lives. When King found out that she’d been hired for a Web-development job that didn’t require her presence in an office, it suddenly seemed feasible.

King and Smith, who are thirty-two and thirty-one, respectively, had grown up watching “Saturday Night Live” sketches in which a sweaty, frantic Chris Farley character ranted, “I am thirty-five years old, I am divorced, and I live in a van down by the river!” But, the way Huntington described it, living in a vehicle sounded not pathetic but romantic. “I remember coming home and telling my mom, ‘I have something to tell you,’ ” King said. “She thought I was going to say we were getting married or having a baby. But I said, ‘We’re going to live in a van.’ ”

Is #VanLife really the dream it’s painted to be on Instagram?

Ken Ilgunas spent most of two years living in a van when he was a graduate student at Duke University in order to avoid racking up debt, an experience he chronicled in a book called “Walden on Wheels,” published in 2013. Living in a van makes you thriftier and more self-reliant, Ilgunas told me. You learn to live with discomfort, a quality that he doesn’t see in the Instagram version of vanlife. “My van never looked like anything out of a Wes Anderson film,” he said. “It was difficult for me to wash my cooking pots. For a couple of weeks, I had mice living in my ceiling upholstery. There were times the van got so hot I thought I would die if I took a nap. And it was lonely. Just knowing that I would have to tell women where I lived deterred even the thought of dating.” In contrast, the vans on Instagram look like “aesthetically pleasing jewelry boxes,” Ilgunas said. “Usually with one or two good-looking people sprawled out in bed in front of a California beach.”

Read the rest and the in-between bits here! 

And learn how to build your own van, the brain spawn of the lovely Cyrus Sutton!

(Click here.)

Surfing's greatest maneuver or definitely?

The Rebirth of the Superman!

Kelly did one, why can't I?

STAB‘s most entertaining writer Brenden Buckley recently penned a piece “The Death of the Superman” in which he investigated the architects and assassins of surfing’s most notorious maneuver.

Read some of it here!

None of the air show crew had full-time filmers. What you’d see is what you’d see. So, you’d go to an airshow and see people trying everything they could in three-foot ramps. The waves were perfect for such an event, but there’s only so much a man can do on a wave like that. Anyway, somewhere in the progressive haze of the airshow generation, the Superman was first stuck.

According to Troy Brooks, Timmy Curran was the first person to do it. But according to me, Brooko is the king of them. Nobody’s men were as super as his. I asked him how they were born.

“I think in any sport, everybody wants to be the first person to do something. And back then, it was all about grabs.” 

Buckley went on to ask Albee Layer, esteemed big-waver and aerial aficionado, why the Superman is now considered lame.

“Honestly, the only reason they went away is because people started doing small ones. I think Jordy killed the Superman for all of us [laughs],” Layer told him.

So this is somewhat interesting but why, you might be wondering, did I just copy/paste another man’s article on our site? Aside from the fact that I tend to mirror writing techniques from Chas and Derek, this article spawned an amusing interaction between my girlfriend and me.

“Are supermans like.. the hardest air someone can do on a surfboard?” she asked.

“Hahaha no, they’re like… pretty easy.”

“Have you ever done one?”

“Nah, I’ve never really tried.”

“Yeah because they’re hard.”

“No… because I just never wanted to. They’re not that hard.”

“Then do one.”



And so a bet was born. I have one month to complete a superman or else cook a week’s worth of dinners like some sort of domesticated woman. If I win she surfs five times next month (her Cost Rican blood can’t handle the middling chill of SoCal’s brine).

I’m gonna feel it out over the first week, try to get the grab and extension part down, but if I’m really struggling I may hit up Mr. Buckley for some advice. It’ll be like Hurley Surf Club for dickhead writers! But seriously, Buckley knows what he’s talking about when it comes to punts.

I once saw Buck, in the dying minutes of heat, pull a superman so small that the judges had to use the only available replay system (a local guy shot it on a digital camera) to confirm that his board did actually exit the water at some point.

Embarrassed by the mediocre completion, Buckley told the judges, “Just give it to Ian. That was so gay.” Such a thing was acceptable to say in New Jersey 2007. Probably even New Jersey 2017.

Pictures confirmed B’s fins (at least two of them) had left the water for a fraction of a second. He was granted a four-point ride and the unwanted heat win.

A fun anecdote, but now back to me!

If all goes well, kids around the country, the world, will be inspired by my efforts in the field of progression (regression?). Supermans (supermen?) will be reborn and I alone will be to thank (blame?).

I’ll keep you updated.

Thanks for the memories, Trestles!
Thanks for the memories, Trestles!

Science: Trestles set to disappear!

But not before The Hurley Pro (fingers crossed)!

The United States of America has one stop on the magnificent World Surf League Championship Tour and it is Lower Trestles. Do you enjoy surfing there? Braving the mad pack of Brazilians? Staking your claim on California’s high performance wave? Making air reverses?

Well you better get your fill now because The Smithsonian says it is going away along with The Wedge, Topanga and Santa Cruz. Let’s read?

It may seem that stronger storms and swells would be a boon to surfers. But as with many aspects of living in a changing climate, the outlook is far more complicated.

As a new study by the U.S. Geological Survey predicts, by 2100 many of Southern California’s most popular surfing spots could be subsumed beneath rising seas. Others could simply wash away.

Beaches are not static places. The very action of the waves that formed them, pulverizing rocks into sand over eons, can unmake them, reports Ramin Skibba for Hakai Magazine. “In Southern California, winter storms and heavy surf pull sand away, and summer waves and sediment from rivers gradually bring it back,” Skibba writes.

Climate change could alter that balance, the new study published in the Journal of Geophysical Research, suggests. In the next eight decades, Southern California may have to deal with a sea level rise of between 3.3 and 6.5 feet that could erode 31 to 67 percent of the region’s beaches, the researchers say.

That would be a loss for surfers that seek out long, scenic rides at Topanga, the bizarre and brutal break called “The Wedge” at Newport or the classic and beloved “Lower Trestles” outside of San Clemente. (All make Surfer Today’s list of the best Southern California surf spots.) Surf spots where waves break at low tide may disappear when the sea level rises. Spots where waves break at high tide will only break at low tide. ​

Those measures might prevent some beach erosion, but they don’t have surfer’s needs in mind. For The Inertia, an online surfing community, surfer and scientist Shawn Kelly explains the serious effects climate chance will have on the sport. He brings his authority as a…

Wait just a damned second. The Inertia? How did those kooky bastards weasel into my morning? Well now I don’t know what to believe and, to be honest, am inclined to discount this entire “sea level rise” thing altogether.

The Inertia for Pete’s sake. I mean, seriously. The Inertia. First the pride of Venice-adjacent tries to take the fun out of weed and now this? Now this?

Sons of bitches. Sons of damned bitches.